교회 – Church

Neon crosses are everywhere in the Seoul nigh sky.

Visitors to Korea cannot fail to notice the red (occasionally white) neon crosses in the night skyline. They are everywhere on top of buildings. Many churches (called 교회 in Korean) in Korea seem to share building space with other tenants, so the churches do not always share the familiar architectural forms of Western churches. A church might be on the 3rd or 4th floor of a building that also has real estate offices, supermarkets, and taekwondo studios. On top of these buildings, a neon cross is placed. Of course, there are also many larger churches which have their own buildings, as well as mega-churches of the big scale seen in the United States. There is also the well-known Myeongdong Cathedral, a Seoul landmark for more than 100 years. According to Wikipedia, there are as many as 13 million Christians (8.6 million Protestants and 5 million Catholics) in South Korea, or almost a third of the country’s population.

The cross is called a 십자 (十字) in Korea, meaning the letter-10, since the Chinese character for 10 has the shape of a cross.

Here is a church in Koreatown L.A., with the palm trees in the background. Korean churches are prominent in Korean ex-pat communities, such as those in L.A., Vancouver, Toronto, and New York.

Korean church in L.A.

I’ve heard this church in Yoido is one of the biggest in Seoul. Notice the cherry blossoms on the trees in front.

This church is called 소망교회. 소망 means hope.

소망 means hope.

In Korean the word for Protestant is 기독교. The sign below is for a 기독교 서점, meaning a Protestant book store.

기독교 서점: A Protestant book store

Below are miscellaneous pictures of crosses in Korea.

The cross emerges from a maze of signs and wires.

The silvery full moon and the silver neon cross.

Seoul Tower on top of Namsan mountain is in the background.